43 user 48 critic

Le Boucher (1970)

Le boucher (original title)
3:30 | Trailer
An unlikely friendship between a dour, working class butcher and a repressed schoolteacher coincides with a grisly series of Ripper-type murders in a provincial French town.


Claude Chabrol


Claude Chabrol
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 wins. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Stéphane Audran ... Hélène
Jean Yanne ... Popaul / Paul Thomas
Antonio Passalia Antonio Passalia ... Angelo
Pascal Ferone Pascal Ferone ... Père Cahrpy / Uncle Cahrpy
Mario Beccara Mario Beccara ... Léon Hamel
William Guérault William Guérault ... Charles
Roger Rudel Roger Rudel ... Commissaire Grumbach / Inspector Grumbach


Butcher Popaul meets schoolteacher Helene at a wedding in a small rural French village. They become friends. But girls are murdered in the area and Helene finds at the scene the lighter she gave Popaul... Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Thriller


GP | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list. See more »


When the blood from a murder victim drips down onto a girl from a cliff above, the hand shown dripping the blood looks fake. See more »


Popaul: But, shit, I asked you if I kissed you now, what would you say?
Hélène: I'd say nothing, but please don't.
See more »


Referenced in Le boucher: intervista a Claude Chabrol (2005) See more »


Plaisir D'Amour
Music by Johann Martini (uncredited)
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User Reviews

The horror of irresolution
20 July 2008 | by bendy11See all my reviews

is The Butcher a thriller? Yes. Is it a psychological drama? Yes. Is it an idyllic small town romance? Yes. Is it a horror film? Yes. Can all of these descriptions coexist? Yes. The Butcher is indeed all of those things. It's a film that deals with the greatest, most puzzling, and most disturbing mysteries of humanity, but it's also a small, simple film with a style so subtle it sometimes appears to be no style at all. Chabrol's French contemporaries are known for their flair- for their attention-grabbing camera work and editing. Hitchcock was known for his stylish set-pieces. But Chabrol has an amazing knack for convincing us that we're not watching a stylish film. The color scheme, the manipulation of light, and the stifling editing are as meticulous as in a Hitchcock film, or a Truffaut film, but are at the same time nearly invisible. His direction is heavily stylized but appears nearly accidental. Chabrol manages to transform picnics, schoolhouses and cobblestone streets into a landscape that is horrifying for its lack of apparent horror and for its incongruity with the horror being committed. The Butcher is also the story of two people who have adapted, in their own ways, to modern society. An uneducated, old-fashioned male war veteran adapts by becoming a killing machine, and an educated, stylish woman adapts by becoming a cold narcissist. Both were apparently functioning, normal human beings until they meet each other. But, when they meet each other, their neuroses come into the foreground: his animalistic passion and her ultra-civilized coolness nearly destroy each other. Some viewers say that the woman is the monster and some say it is the man. It is the man who commits truly monstrous acts, but it is the woman who, by way of her repressed attraction to such a monstrous man, sets his gears turning. The schoolteacher never could have foreseen the effect she would have on the butcher, but she is still responsible, and that is what is terrifying. The Butcher, however, is not a masterpiece because of its cynicism; it's a masterpiece because it manages to be cynical while having utmost respect for its characters. It's a great film because of the way it explores how hard its characters try and how pathetically they fail. It's a horror film about how impossible it can be for people to change.

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France | Italy



Release Date:

19 December 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Le Boucher See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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